Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Saraiki Language (Part II)

Saraiki and Sindhi both have somewhat similar consonant inventories. This inventory includes phonemically distinctive implosive consonants, which makes Sindhi and Saraiki unusual among the Indo-European languages (and not just among the Indo-Aryan languages).

Phonology (Vowels)
Saraiki has three short vowels, seven long vowels and six nasal vowels.

Writing system
There are three writing systems for Saraiki, though very few Saraiki speakers—even those literate in other languages — are able to read or write their own language in any writing system. The most common Saraiki writing system today is the Persian script, which has also been adapted for use on computers. Saraiki has a 42-letter alphabet including 37 of the Urdu alphabet and five letters unique to Saraiki. The Saraiki keyboard can also be used for other languages such as Punjabi & Kashmiri. The Devanagari and Gurmukhi scripts, written from left to right, were used by Sikhs and Hindus. Though not used in present-day Pakistan, there are still emigrant speakers in India who know the Devanagari or Gurmukhi scripts for Saraiki. Traders or bookkeepers wrote in a script known as Langdi, although use of this script has been significantly reduced in recent times. The transliteration from and to Persian and Devanagari scripts for Saraiki language can be made online. 

In the process of creating a distinct Saraiki written language, activists have paid attention to creating a standard script and orthographic norms. Orthographic and linguistic standardization of Saraiki seems more connected with the politics of identity. Although Saraiki shares four implosive sounds with Sindhi, care was taken so that the Saraiki script and the representation of these symbols should be different from that of Sindhi so that the Sindhis should not lay any claims over Saraiki literature as theirs.

Geographic Distribution and Number of Speakers
Saraiki is a language of great antiquity in Pakistan. It served as lingua franca among the people living in the Indus Valley for centuries. It also remained the language of commerce and trade until recent times. Today over forty million people of South Punjab and Dera Ismail Khan region of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province speak Saraiki as their first language. It is widely spoken and understood as a second language in other areas of Punjab, Northern and Western Sindh down to the suburbs of Karachi, and in Kachhi plain of Baluchistan. The vernacular dialects on which Saraiki is based are native to what is now the southwestern half of Punjab Province in Pakistan, south of the Salt Range of mountains. It is also spoken in India and Afghanistan.

The first national census of Pakistan to gather data on the prevalence of Saraiki was the census of 1981. In that year, the percentage of respondents nationwide reporting Saraiki as their mother tongue was 9.83. In the census of 1998, it was 10.53 out of a national population of 132 million, for a figure of 13.9 million Saraiki speakers resident in Pakistan. Also according to the 1998 census, 12.8 million of those, or 92%, lived in the Province of Punjab.

In Punjab, It is mostly spoken in southern and western districts of Punjab. Saraiki is home to the districts of, but not limited to, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Khushab, Layyah, Muzaffar Garh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Multan, Vehari, Lodhran, Mailsi, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Bahwalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahimyar Khan, Sadiqabad. Thal and Cholistan deserts also are homes of Saraiki language. These areas are called as Saraiki Waseb according to Saraiki literature. More than Saraiki Waseb, there are native speaskers of Saraiki language in the districts of Mandi Bahuddin, Chakwal, Hafizabad, Faisalabad, Okara, Toba Teksingh and Lahore.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Saraiki is native language in the districts of Dera Ismail Khan and Tank.

In Sindh Saraiki is widely spoken in Kashmore, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Sobho Khan Mastoi, Kamal Khan Mastoi, Thatta, Sujawal, Dadu and Ghotki.

Saraiki is widely spoken in Naseerabad Division of Balochistan. It is also the second language of many in the Sulaiman Mountains including Loralai, Musa Khel and Barkhan adjoining Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts of Punjab.

Saraiki in the World
Saraiki is also spoken by a tiny, recent diaspora in Punjab, India. According to the Indian census of 2001, Saraiki is spoken in urban areas throughout northwest and north central India by a total of about 70,000 people, the descendants of emigrants from western Punjab after the partition of India in 1947. Out of these total speakers of the language, 56,096 persons report their dialect as Mūltānī and by 11,873 individuals report their dialect as Bahāwalpurī. Other dialects of Saraiki that are spoken by Indian Saraikis include Derawali Jafri, Saraiki Hindki, Jhangi, Thali, and Jatki. Saraiki is spoken in Faridabad, Ballabhgarh, Palwal, Rewari, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hisar, Bhiwani, Panipat districts of Haryana, some area of Delhi and Ganganagar district, Hanumangarh and Bikaner districts of Rajasthan. It is spoken at low scale in Utrakhand and U.P. Romani and Saraiki share some words and similar grammatical systems. The cause of the Romani diaspora is unknown. However, the most probable conclusion is that the Romanies were part of the military in Northern India. When there were repeated raids by Mahmud of Ghazni and these soldiers were defeated, they were moved west with their families into the Byzantine Empire. This would have occurred between AD 1000 and 1030.

Many Saraiki migrants are in Middle East, Europe and America with smaller communities in Australia, South East Asia and China. Saraiki is second largest language inKingdom of Saudi Arabia with more than 2.5M. In UK Saraiki is spoken by 400,000.

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